Tag Archives: 2forJoy

”I don’t really write fictional songs”- 2forJoy Interview

12 Dec


Despite having just one official release and another two tracks online, 2forJoy is already building a reputation as a bewitching artist full of drama and mystique. She is the antithesis of modern pop, harking back to a time when trip-hop and dark brooding sounds emanating from Bristol began to bristle and bubble out into the musical consciousness. Her background is not one that you’d hear trotted out on your TV on a Saturday evening by contestants desperate to change their lives and become everything SyCo want them to be. Louis Walsh would have a stroke if Ruth Ivo ever pitched up on X-Factor.

“It’s basically just me and my own stories”

Not that she would. She was brought up on the likes of Lou Reed, The Police and The Stranglers and has a background in performance art. Not the end-up-with-a-job-on-Eastenders stage school kind of performance art though. Along with her ex-partner, she co-founded the notorious Trash City, a legendary area of Glastonbury famous for bringing a seedier side to the festival that had not been seen before, where art and sculpture met music. It was immensely popular during its short run.

She also worked for long time as a cabaret performer which included a stint singing the Blues on a trapeze in the burlesque clubs of London before an epiphany found its way to her. ”it took me about a year or so to figure out that I was actually quite scared of heights”, she laughs when we meet for a coffee, ”but that I loved singing and that it was the singing part that I really looked forward to”. She had been in a band before but it was never more than for fun, the end of Trash City though provided the opportunity for her to start a process of evaluation that led to the birth, or evolution, of 2forJoy.


”I think I’ve just been exploring different aesthetics and different, not so much personas, but stories through all these different projects. Then funnily enough 2forJoy ended up being almost what was left over after I’d stripped everything back. It’s basically just me and my own stories and the things that I’ve always been interested in”.

The stories aren’t fiction though. It has been well documented that “Michaela”, a haunting and heart-wrenching tale of addiction and loss, is very much a true story from Ruth’s life. Her honesty is disarming, both in the song and in conversation. She wrote “Michaela” as a kind of exorcism for her memories and 2forJoy is, she says, the most honest thing she has done. ”I don’t really write fictional songs”.

Nor is she in a hurry, preferring instead to let things find and take a natural path, which explains why thus far she has only shared a demo (“Choke”), a cover (of Tom Waits’ “Green Grass”) and one single. ”I could see that the project was evolving at its own pace I just didn’t want to rush anything, I just wanted to let it be its own thing because I could feel that it was going in the right direction and wanted to give it space to breathe”.

”He’s like a sonic horse-whisperer”

Part of the process has been to find a kindred spirit in her producer, Paul Ressel who also performs as part of Vuvuvultures. It was the fact that he makes his own instruments that drew Ruth to Paul, but after originally meeting while Trash City was still going; it was Paul who reached out once it had folded. His timing was impeccable and, despite being nervous about sharing her own music in a rough, unfinished form, Ruth sent him a few tracks and he liked what he heard. The pair clicked, sharing as they do very similar references and influences, ”our tastes really dovetail”, and she is a big fan of his intelligent approach to production, ”he’s like a sonic horse-whisperer, he understands how to get the best out of your voice. When we recorded in the studio he always turns the lights down, because he knows that I started singing on stage”.

Production is not the only area where she works with a like-minded soul. The visuals too are immensely important to Ruth and for her videos so far she has collaborated with her friend, videographer and director Annick Wolfers. “I wanted the music and the visuals to be an immersive experience. It just seemed natural to me that if I was going to make this music, I should also create my own videos”. Her relationship with Annick is a symbiotic creative one Ruth says, ”She is one of the first people that I always send new 2forJoy tracks to for feedback”. Ruth confesses to being a perfectionist and always has a clear vision for the videos, but that doesn’t mean she won’t accept good fortune when it comes her way. ”The snow storm (in the video for “Choke”) was an actual complete fluke! We didn’t know that we were going to shoot in a blizzard until we were literally shooting in a blizzard”. Not that she didn’t pay for it. ”I got stage 1 hypothermia. It was pretty intense, I got very ill afterwards. But it was amazing, amazing to shoot in a blizzard”.

The video for “Choke” was always going to be a dream sequence, and that world of imagination and dressing up is one that has been with her since childhood. ”I was always like that as a child. Just in the dressing up box, living out dark twisted tales at the bottom of the garden and writing stories. Yeah I was a bit of a Wednesday Adams”. It’s something she hasn’t entirely lost and there is an almost gothic style apparent amongst the sparse electronics and delicate intensity of her sound.

As with her own writing, and the Blues records she still loves so much, honesty in music and the industry is of paramount importance to Ruth. As 2forJoy gains more attention and plans start to come to fruition, she is already looking ahead with a single and an EP pencilled in for the spring and a tour looking likely in the Summer. Glastonbury is on the cards too which is particularly exciting for her as it will be her first time back since Trash City folded, bringing things almost full circle. ”It’s really nice to be asked back as an artist”, she says.

She is itching to get back on stage and sing though as, with her background in performance and cabaret, it is still her main love. ”We were in the studio for a year and a half, so I was crawling up the walls”, she admits. Just don’t expect to see her on The X-Factor.

Read More: “Face-to-face with the memory” – 2forJoy discusses “Michaela” video / Listen: 2forJoy – “Michaela”

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2012 Tracks of the Year

10 Dec

2012 Tracks of the Year

Over the last three weeks we had a look ahead at 15 artists we recommend you Listen Out For in 2013. This week it is time to look back a bit as 2012 fast draws to a close. Over the next few days we will countdown our EPs and Albums of the year but today we start with our 20 favourite tracks.

We have purposefully used quite a loose definition of ‘tracks’. We are not looking at singles only but tracks that were released in one capacity or another over the last 12 months. These are the tracks that stood out and stayed with us across the year, we hope you like them and hopefully even find some you hadn’t heard before.

20. Lovepark – “How Do I See?”
The debut release from Brighton based Lovepark was a perfect track for late summer evening listening, and despite the onset of winter, it still sounds as lovely as ever. The warm, dreamy sounds gently nudge and probe into your subconscious, simultaneously relaxing you while stirring something from within. Not bad for four skater boys who met on the ramps of Burgess Hill.

19. Dare Dukes – “Meet You On The Bus”
Dare Dukes is blessed with the ability to perfectly encapsulate the minutiae of everyday life in the most charming and endearing manner. Of “Meet You On The Bus” he said, “I was trying to capture the great American leaving-on-a-jet-plane narrative the comes up again and again in popular music, and I was trying to run it through the brains of modern-day Romeos and Juliettes looking for escape from all the things that Romeos and Juliettes get fed up with”. Which is a good thing, because it is exactly what he achieved in such a sweet and catchy way.

18. Eye Emma Jedi – “Sin”
There is something slightly antipodean about the opening guitar lines of “Sin” which we just love and the rest of the track is damn fine too. It’s frenetic indie-pop a-go-go with full on festival bounceability that blasts along at breakneck speed revving up the guitars as it goes. Brilliant stuff from a brilliantly named band.

17. Wall – “Magazine”
Utterly enchanting, Wall’s voice is as soft and refreshing as the cool side of the pillow and as fragile as crystal, perched delicately and perfectly atop her sparse, muted soundscapes. It’s no wonder her debut single, “Magazine” was snapped up for release by the label arm of Black Cab Sessions in double quick time.

16. MS MR – “Hurricane”
Introspective without wallowing in self-pity or melodrama, “Hurricane” is a fantastic twist on the classic pop of yesteryear. It deals with the emotion of a breaking or broken relationship but via self-analysis rather than by proclaiming remorse and undying love for the other party. The production too is stunning, it’s about as clean as we have heard all year and is the kind that could make almost any system sound amazing.

15. She Makes War – “Minefields” (Alphabet Bands session)
A little bit of a cheat we admit, but as much as we love the original version of “Minefields”, this stripped back acoustic version that She Makes War recorded for us earlier in the year is just stunning. It is just gorgeous and we fell more than a little bit in love with it, it being our first ever session just made it even more special.

14. Seasfire – “We Will Wake”
We weren’t the only people to love “We Will Wake”. It didn’t take long for it to burn up the Hype Machine chart and hit the top spot. It takes their trademark haunting melodies and glitchy sounds and adds in a huge, anthemic Hurts-style pop hook that just builds and builds. The gentle darkness that has been ever present in their sound thus far has been cracked by a ray of light pop breaking through, it sounds fantastic.

13. Of Monsters And Men – “Little Talks”
“Little Talks” is a great pop song, when you first hear it you have to sit up and take notice. We love the boy/girl duet, and it’s so vibrant and colourful. This was the first track we heard from Of Monsters And Men and it made us stop what we were doing and go and find everything else we could of theirs and ultimately resulted in their album being imported from Iceland.

12. Public Service Broadcasting – “Waltz For George”
“Waltz For George” consistently knocks us sideways with its haunting and harrowing elegance. Other tracks on The War Room may get more recognition and plaudits, but as great as they are, they lack the emotional resonance of “Waltz For George”, which highlights the realities of warfare and the price that must be paid even in victory.

11. Superhumanoids – “Geri”
“Geri” is one of those tracks that just goes round and round in your head on a never ending loop. It’s so damn catchy and infectious. The melody, the light electronica, the beat, the vocal counterpoint of the male and female duet (which gets us every time) is all rather special.

10. Arrange – “Caves”
Listening to “Caves” is akin to catching the faint scent of something from your past on the breeze as you stride along. Without realising why, memories and emotions have been stirred within you and you just have to stop for a moment to take it all in and compose yourself. The soft, haziness of Malcolm Lacey’s vocals waft around while ambient beats and electronics move deliberately below. It’s music for an early morning walk in the autumn, just as the sun rises and the dew drops glisten. Haunting and melodic it is absolutely beautiful.

9. Rhye – “The Fall”
“The Fall” is a velvet smooth recounting of a relationship that is crumbling and the ache to feel just one moment more of tenderness; “My love, make love to me one more time before you go away” is the lament. It is awash with a mid-life crisis feel, the element of looking across at grass that is greener and wondering how you ended up here, all delivered in a rich and beguiling package.

8. Olympians – “It Was Words That Sunk Our Ship”
Full of rousing harmonies and popping rhythms layered over intricate guitar and synth lines, “It Was Words That Sunk Our Ship” just edged out “The Dictionary” as our favourite Olympians track of the year. Arriving as part three of their acclaimed Book Club project “It Was Words” further illustrated the bands rapid growth and their ability to create intricate and intelligent sounds.

7. Vuvuvultures – “Ctrl Alt Mexicans”
Vibrant, fractious guitars jump over pulsating, relentless beats and skittering electronics. Named after one of the samples used within in, “Ctrl Alt Mexicans” is a fantastic track of pulsating and edgy darkness. It whips along at pace, taking you with it as it rocks out and jumps around.

6. Milly Hirst – “Rose”
Taken from Milly Hirst’s eponymous debut EP, “Rose” is just sublime, a track of real beauty. As delicate as its subject, wistful and heartfelt it leads you, floating to meet this Rose, to see her and understand her. Its porcelain fragility is divine and makes you want to just close your eyes and drift away on her voice.

5. Haim – “Don’t Save Me”
“Don’t Save Me” is so infectious that people could well die from it. Hear it and you want to dance, preferably in a not-quite-groovy-but-still-really-fun 80’s way, like Springsteen when he dances with Courtney Cox in the “Dancing In The Dark” video. It is just a great pop track that will have you up from your seat and grooving like a loon.

4. Niki & the Dove – “Somebody”

Speaking of great pop tracks, with “Somebody” Niki & the Dove has leant over and drawn from the well once reserved for Prince, and the result is an absolute gem. There is so much crammed into less than 3 minutes, it’s like they have taken the best elements of every great pop song of the last 30 years and crammed them together, taken a giant hit and blown out a perfect smoke ring of utter pop magnificence.

3. 2forJoy – “Michaela”
2forJoy’s Ruth Ivo has one of the most enchanting and heartbreaking voices we have heard in a long time. On “Michaela” it is soft and gentle, exciting but somehow distant; tinged with an overwhelming melancholy as she sings of a lost friend. Intermittent electronics and percussion build a perfectly brooding, wistful atmosphere for the vocals to melt into. It’s a wonderful piece of low-key, haunting pop music and one that we absolutely adore.

2. Embers – “Hollow Cage (live performance)”
In just the last couple of weeks, Manchester based Embers have exploded across the internet, taking no prisoners on a path of unrelenting critical acclaim. It is entirely justified as well as on “Hollow Cage” they build sound like a cinematic narrative. Layers are added and woven in as the song progresses and evolves. Recorded in a monastery, the acoustics help add to the scale of the sound, which seems to expand and contract at will. Vocals and strings escalate, rising up to the top of the vast ceilings and filling every nook and cranny above and crypt and cellar below. There is drama and intensity on a grand scale, emotional and honest. Had they released this just a month before, the Blog Sound of 2013 longlist would probably have looked a bit different.

1. Spring Offensive – “Not Drowning But Waving”
We said at the time of release that Spring Offensive’s epic “Not Drowning But Waving” could well end up as our track of the year, and so it has. Its anger, fear and guilt all flow like the tide that plays so central a role in the song’s narrative. From the understated tick-tocking of a clock at the start, through the soft remorseful recounting of the situation, the intense rousing worry of the denouement and onto the resigned coda of culpability and consequence; everything is exquisitely crafted and considered. “Not Drowning But Waving” is a stirring and emotional tidal wave that pulls at your heart and threatens to suffocate your soul. It is a magnificent track and one truly deserving of its place as our favourite of the year.

“Face-to-face with the memory” – 2forJoy discusses “Michaela” video.

7 Dec


2forJoy is an artist we’ve fallen a little bit in love with. On “Michaela”, which we shared with you while back she sings with a bewitching, fragile remorse over sparse, brooding electronics. Now this haunting tale of loss has an equally captivating and powerful video to accompany it, all darkness and light, suffering and pain. We caught up with Ruth Ivo, aka 2forJoy, last week and asked her about the video, which you can watch below.

Filmed on location in a crypt under St. Thomas’s church in Holborn, London, the idea came about after Ruth and her friend and director Annick Wolfers independently went to the same Marissa Carnesky show in the Old Vic tunnels, and came away thinking the exact same thing. ”They had a tank with a girl performing acrobatically inside the water in this tunnel”, Ruth explained. ”Myself and Annick both went to see the show separately, but then a couple of days later we got in touch with the same idea”.

Filming “Michaela” in the Old Vic tunnels wasn’t possible but the crypt proved an equally stunning and atmospheric location, if one that presented a series of logistical challenges. ”We didn’t fully comprehend the logistics of getting a giant metal and steel safety glass tank down a very steep very narrow flight of stairs, with a crew of four, and then filling it with water, splashing around in it for half a day, getting all the water out, and getting the tank back up the stairs again”.

She laughs about it now, but the logistics weren’t the only way in which she suffered for her art as it was her who was doing the splashing around, which after filming in a blizzard for the video for “Choke” shows her dedication to the performance.”Yes that was another hypothermia shoot. I actually really enjoyed it when it was being a mermaid in a tank. But then but afterwards it wasn’t great”>

The track itself deals with addiction and loss, a true story from Ruth’s life that obviously affected her deeply. Putting her out there, sharing these emotions with the public is not something she is afraid of and the video, its narrative, was another element of that process. ”People can interpret the video however they want to”, she admits ”but to me it was all about the memories that you keep locked away in your mind. They stay there dormant until suddenly something triggers them and you find yourself face-to-face with the memory or whatever it is that you’re trying to bury. Then you have your face-off with it”.

As she says, subjectivity plays an important part in all forms of art, and how we interpret something is very much dependent on our own experiences. Ambiguous elements can give art a much more powerful resonance with the beholder and the ending of the “Michaela” video, it’s symbolism, is one that may appear obvious at first glance, but could actually be understood in a number of different ways. That’s just one of the many reasons it is such a beautiful video.

“Michaela” is available for free download in exchange for a tweet.

Our full interview with 2forJoy will published soon.

Read More: Listen: 2forJoy – “Michaela”

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Listen: 2forJoy – “Michaela”

4 Oct

An empty stage, busy and bustling waiters slip between tables as patrons laugh, drink, laugh some more, the volume of the chatter is deafening, the club is heaving and everyone is fighting to be heard. The lights dim over the floor. A single spotlight illuminates an exotic looking woman standing alone on stage. The noise was such that no-one even noticed her arrive. She sings and the chatter stops. Laughter subsides as conversations are left unsaid on the lips of the now transfixed audience. Her voice is the only sound, hypnotic it floats out across the audience, wisp like it dances amongst them as they hang on every note.

As a scenario it may sound far-fetched but when you are as vocally blessed as Ruth Ivo, aka 2forJoy, it must happen all the time. Her online releases so far, the spellbinding “Choke” and disarming cover of Tom Waits’ “Green Grass”, have sent a shiver of excitement across the blogoshpere already. With her formal debut single, “Michaela”, she threatens to send us all into convulsions.

Here her voice is a lover’s caress, but in a relationship that is on the turn. Soft, gentle, exciting but somehow distant, melancholy as she sings of a lost friend. Intermittent electronics and percussion build a perfectly brooding, wistful atmosphere for Ivo’s vocals to melt into. It’s a wonderful piece of low-key, haunting pop music and one that will be absorbed and enjoyed by all who hear it.

“Michaela” is due for release on 23 October.

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